In my Writing with Influence workshop yesterday Deb Tetteh-Wayoe introduced me to a wonderful quote that her grandfather would recite to convince her to keep her communication clear and simple.
Although Twain is satirizing verbal communication I believe that it now applies more to our tendency to overcomplicate business writing.
"A good lecturer is thus talking with and not at or even to his or her listeners. To manage this, the lecturer needs to be closely attending to the audience's every move, gesture and sound. Perversely, this cannot be done by watching the audience, as such. A good lecturer speaks directly to and watches the response of single, identifiable people,* instead of doing something clichéd, such as "presenting a talk" to an audience. Everything about that phrase is wrong. You don't present. You talk. There is no such thing as "a talk," unless it's canned, and it shouldn't be. There is also no "audience". There are individuals, who need to be included in the conversation. A well-practiced and competent public speaker addresses a single, identifiable person, watches that individual nod, shake his head, frown, or look confused, and responds appropriately and directly to those gestures and expressions. Then, after a few phrases, rounding out some idea, he switches to another audience member, and does the same thing. In this manner, he infers and reacts to the attitude of the entire group (insofar as such a thing exists).
* The strategy of speaking to individuals is not only vital to the delivery of any message, it's a useful antidote to the fear of public speaking. No one wants to be stared at by hundreds of unfriendly, judgemental eyes. However, almost everybody can talk to just one attentive person. So, if you have to deliver a speech (another terrible phrase) then do that. Talk to the individuals in the audience - and don't hide: not behind the podium, not with downcast eyes, not by speaking too quietly or mumbling, not by apologizing for your lack of brilliance or preparedness, not behind ideas that are not yours, and not behind clichés."
Jordan B. Peterson - 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, 2018
CALGARY, AB (May 15, 2018) – Gregor Jeffrey, a pioneer in the neuroscience of communication, received TEC Canada’s 2017 Canadian Speaker of the Year Award.
“I’m passionate about helping leaders at every level to improve their performance through communication and TEC Canada is the ideal forum for sharing my ideas. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredibly diverse groups of driven, intellectually curious leaders across Canada - it’s been an amazing experience and I’m so grateful to receive this award!” said Gregor Jeffrey.
Gregor guides TEC members to become better leaders by presenting their ideas more effectively. He has delivered 12 presentations to our TEC Canada groups in 2017 with an outstanding overall average of 4.93 out of 5, a 98.6% rating, the highest speaker rating ever received.
“We’re thrilled to recognize Gregor Jeffrey for his contributions to our members,” said Todd Millar, TEC Canada President. “His remarkable session uses neuroscience to introduce the idea of cognitive diversity in communication and provides practical tools to help our members to immediately become better presenters and speakers. Our world-class TEC speakers generously share their thought leadership and elevate our executive-level groups.”
Gregor Jeffrey’s challenges delivering high-profile presentations in the international defence sector led him to study the real science behind effective communication. After years of research he discovered a link between neuroscience and communication that clearly proves why so many leaders and professionals struggle to communicate in complex corporate environments. He shares his discovery with TEC members across Canada to show them how they can consistently engage diverse audiences and increase their influence every time they speak.
For more information on TEC Canada, visit www.tec-canada.com
Just wanted to let you know that I have really been incorporating your principles in my work. And it really really works.
I have also applied it outside of work. My wife and I are leading a parent group to bring improvement to our children's school. We recently presented to the School Board and our proposal was accepted. To develop the presentation, I taught my wife and the parents your approach and they all bought-in a hundred percent.
Our presentation was so successful that we had all the Board members coming to thank us for such a great presentation that 'made sense'. We had a well-rounded presentation that appealed to all of their social, structural, analytical and conceptual needs. The Superintendent said it was the best presentation they've seen given to the Board, ever.
I felt proud to apply your approach and bring about positive change for my three kid's education. We wanted to thank you.
Last week I was flying from Calgary to Toronto to deliver a talk on NeuroCommunication - it's a four-hour flight that can feel long if you don't have a good book or something interesting to watch.
However, the time flew by as I spent most of the flight engrossed in this fascinating documentary on the life of Dr. Marian Diamond. A must-see if you're interested in the science of the human brain!
Three years ago, I discovered a fascinating relationship between the way our brains process information and how we speak, write and listen. Since then our Presenting with Influence, Writing with Influence and Connecting Through Listening workshops have helped thousands of business professionals like you to increase their performance in all aspects of communication.
In our talks and workshops we show how neurological preferences drive communication behaviour - and that each of us has unique communication biases that we can easily recognize and learn to overcome. I’ve always thought that this innovative approach merits its own term and last month I had a flash of inspiration and came up with a new word: NeuroCommunication.
I believe that it captures perfectly the exciting work that we do - I hope that it resonates with you as well!
"Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to communication and keeping communication good as we grow is incredibly important. Individually, a few acronyms here and there may not seem so bad, but if a thousand people are making these up, over time the result will be a huge glossary that we have to issue to new employees. No one can actually remember all these acronyms and people don't want to seem dumb in a meeting, so they just sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees."
"The key test for an acronym is to ask whether it helps or hurts communication."
Selected text from a May 2010 email to SpaceX employees
I wanted to touch base and say that I use your Writing with Influence skills EVERY day and it’s made a HUGE impact within my division and on my work.
I do monthly reporting that gets sent to our VP. Each Manager submits their contribution to me and I read it, ask questions and they revise it for clarity. Because of my feedback and determination to drive a great report, our VP is now able to bring that report to the Executive Leadership team as well. I am so proud of it and proud of myself for making a huge difference.
I’m able to write difficult emails much more easily as well - thank you!
Many of you will have watched Simon Sinek's 2009 TED Talk "How great leaders inspire action". Sinek has become popular once again for a new video where he discusses the challenges that many Millennials face in the workplace.
In a clip from a longer interview he outlines how four factors have impacted Millennials satisfaction in the workplace: parenting, technology, impatience and environment.
He then suggests that companies are responsible for creating learning environments where employees can develop the confidence and social skills they need to be successful.
In a second video posted yesterday, Sinek expands upon these ideas and addresses the need to help leaders and professionals of all generations to communicate effectively.
While flying back from New York City I finished reading the first part of Knausgård's remarkable six-volume autobiography. I was struck by the simplicity, directness and authenticity of the writing and I realized that it's these same traits that characterize influential writing in business.
To get there, we have to strip away the traditional forms and the unnecessary embellishments and formality that we've been taught to add to our writing.
In Knausgård's words:
I took your Writing with Influence workshop this summer and have been meaning to send you feedback since. The structure you gave, plus the permission to just be me and write how I’d talked helped more than you can imagine.
I’ve always been pretty confident at communicating; getting across urgency, appreciation and sharing of knowledge. But I’ve NEVER had the reaction I had to emails before I took your course.